But first, what is KINTSUGI? Pronounced "keen-soo-gee", since the 15th century, instead of discarding pottery that breaks, the Japanese have been joining the pieces with gold. Kintsugi literally translates to "Golden Joinery".
When I first heard about this practice, my mouth dropped open and didn’t close for nearly two minutes. You mean the Japanese have been making art out of brokenness? Although it shares characteristics with the sustainability and upcycling movements, it is clearly in its own category. Kintsugi isn’t simply gluing the broken hoping no one notices the cracks; it cherishes the brokenness by cocooning it in valuable gold. Through the lens of kintsugi, it is the history of the object that gives it its value, not its factory newness. A life is a dime a dozen. But a life that has learned to pick itself up after it shatters and reenter the world with more, not less...well, those are the most valuable lives on this planet.
Do you remember the last time you shattered? It’s not pleasant, is it? Have you loved into your scars lately? In the eyes of kintsugi, they mark your real gold. Here’s a poem I wrote to remind me when I forget. Maybe it will help you remember too...
There is a treasure in your wound.
There is a treasure in your quirk; your lazy eye,
that strange smirk when you are pleased.
There is treasure in the hurts they imprinted in you.
There is treasure in your history.
There is treasure in the lives you lived so differently
than the one you choose to live now.
Go treasure hunting
for your Gold.
When it’s dark enough, they say, you can see the stars.
Pain is often a smoke signal, showing you the way Home.
So you can feel for your Path
new in each moment.
Seeing the smoke is the first step.
It points to the falling away, the destruction, the change.
What’s left after the fire and the smoke is the only thing that matters anyway.
They also say,
what can never be taken away from you is the only thing that matters anyway.
Choosing to walk towards instead of away
is the second step.
The third asks you to embrace what you thought was ugly;
It wants you to hug your “bad.”
And if you’re with another, the treasure demands you expose your shame;
Air it out in love’s sunshine disinfectant.
You might faint.
3 little birds will always be singing at your doorstep.
Sing with them until you come to again.
Then, you will know that shame is not the truth about you.
Be watchful for the arising of pain.
It’s most likely a smoke signal calling you to treasure.
Do not turn away.